An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

Lighting with Macro Photography


Lighting can be a big problem. Some macro lens arrangements focus on insects so close they almost touch the front piece of the lens, making exposure very difficult. This is one reason why telephoto macro lenses with focal lengths of 100 to 200 mm are so popular. They allow the subject to be lit better because the lens is further from the insect. The lens doesn’t block the light from the direction of your camera. Flash photography poses some unique problems also.

My ideal set up for flowers is to put them on a white sunny window ledge. The natural sunlight reflects from the bottom and the sides of the window trim. The sunlight creates a nice contrast, and the colors are vibrant. Photographs of the inside of flowers have great illumination with all this natural sunlight around them. I can use a fast shutter speed, with a small aperture of about f11. I have a small white table I take outside that accomplishes the same thing. However, with insects it is nice to be inside and be able to catch them again if they fly off.